“We’re already using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Where do we go from here?”
“We have several separate and disconnected social media efforts now but we want to bring them together as part of a social media plan.”
“How can we listen online and engage consumers around wellness?”
“Where do we begin to develop a private online community for ‘Women’s Health’ to use for our product research?”
Businesses are increasing their investments and are ready to move to the next level in their social media efforts. They are forming “Social Media Committees” to begin defining and prioritizing their social media initiatives. Every company can create a unique social media plan drawing upon their set of healthcare relationships, partnerships and resources to deliver value to the consumer. However, how many are actually designing their plan with consumer engagement in mind?
Viewing Your Plan from the Consumers’ Eyes
As you are creating more social media, keep in mind that consumers are already overwhelmed with the current number of online healthcare destinations for them to learn, share and connect with others like them. Before investing any more resources, think about how you can bring consumers relevant and compelling “content” and capabilities that they will value (as opposed to what you have to offer).
Stepping Stones to Follow:
After you’ve defined your goals and assembled your team, these are the steps to move your social media initiatives forward.
1) Listening to Your Target Consumers (Segments)
One essential best practice is to gather insight to understand the health and wellness issues and interests of these consumers and to leverage that information into action. Consider all the opportunities that you can uncover by mining “consumer- generated content” both within your own company’s social media and from online conversations outside of your site and your social media boundaries.
What makes this more complex is that your target consumers have varying needs so you will want to listen to the needs of each of your priority consumer “segments”. For example, you may segment your target consumers by condition, gender or life stage. Where will you go to listen to your priority consumer segments?
2) Engaging Consumers & Acting on their Insight
Through exploratory discussions with your target consumers, you can discover areas of value such as new online decision tools, new ways to “package” content and new channels to deliver this content. Often times, their ideas shed light on new partnerships which yield differentiated products, services and programs for your company. These insightful ideas are often from your key contributors. The ideas make your community dynamic and motivate others to participate. How can you exploit their influence across your social media?
Once new opportunities are surfaced, the key is to define them with your target consumers. By “co-creating” with them, you will ensure that you have conceptualized, developed and validated these new offerings to meet their evolving needs.
Another benefit of engaging consumers is capturing their words which can be injecting into your marketing channels (e.g. website, social media, program brochures, etc).
3) Evaluating Your Social Media Engagement Initiatives
You will need both qualitative and quantitative information to evaluate your social media initiatives against your business goals.
The qualitative information that you collect through your social media efforts is very valuable since it gives you and your team insight to guide your product, partnership and marketing strategies. It is essential to track how these insights are being used by your company to measure their real value (e.g. saving money, generating revenue).
There is a set of quantitative metrics that you will benchmark and monitor to identify your most effective tactics. These metrics are often around participation in your various social media activities.
How About Your Social Media Engagement Path
- What have you learned while listening to consumers online?
- Are you launching new engagement tools to get your target consumers to interact with you?
- How are you mining and leveraging insight from consumer generated content to inform your company’s business strategies?
You have an opportunity to devise a comprehensive plan with best practices and processes for exchanging value with your target consumers through your social media initiatives. Instead of launching tools in isolation, take the lead in bringing your team together to develop a Social Media Engagement Plan designed with your business goals in mind.